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Letters to the Editor

“Friend” loses hard-fought battle to COVID, family needs assistance

Letters Dana and Nerissa

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Katrina Martino

Nerissa Regnier

Last week, we lost a wonderful friend and client of The Hudson Salon & Spa. Her name was Nerissa Regnier. She was a vibrant 45-year-old hard working mother of three, who was hit with COVID this past August.

Unfortunately, Nerissa spent the last three months in multiple hospitals, in and out of the ICU, fighting hard to stay alive. To make matters worse, she also dealt with a seriously compromised immune system making that fight even more difficult.

Last Thursday, on her 100th day in the hospital, Nerissa lost her battle. She leaves behind a family that depended on her for their support.

Her friends here at The Hudson Salon & Spa have joined with others to establish a GoFundMe page in Nerissa’s name to support her family.

Here’s hoping you may find it in your heart to help during this very difficult time.

Thank you.

Katrina Martino & Dana Allen

Laguna Beach

Other sites still appear to make more sense than the old Ti Amo location for a fire station

One hallmark of good local government is transparency and consideration of thoughtful input from affected citizens. Unfortunately, the decision about where to relocate Laguna’s Fire Station 4, which is in South Laguna, reflects little of such transparency or responsiveness.

From the beginning, the South Laguna Civic Association, as well as many individuals in South Laguna, have objected strongly to both the process of selecting a new site for Fire Station 4 and the decision made by the three-person Council majority to purchase the Ti Amo restaurant site for that purpose.

What was wrong with the process? Many private, closed sessions of Council examined alternative sites with no public input. When more than a dozen sites were presented to the public it became clear that the Council had already decided on the Ti Amo site, although they went through the motions of a short period of public comment. When it became obvious that there were strong and significant objections to the Ti Amo site from the public, the City announced that although the purchase was being completed quickly, there was no certainty that the new fire station would be located there. For some, this appeared to be an attempt to bury the issue, allowing the City to move its plan forward out of public sight.

What is wrong with the site? The Ti Amo site fails on the most important criterion that the City and the fire department initially articulated: there is no side street access. All traffic will be stopped in both directions on Coast Highway whenever a vehicle leaves or backs into the fire station, resulting in serious safety and congestion situations on Coast Highway. Additionally, the site is small and cramped, forcing the design of the station to include major excavation to construct an underground third story for parking and storage below the heavy equipment level. There are major setbacks, alley access and height issues, as well as impacts on the beautifully planted median. The negative impacts (view, noise, circulation) on nearby residential neighbors will be significant.

Did the city choose Ti Amo because it was the best available site? Absolutely not. We have identified, and the City is aware of several alternative sites in South Laguna that are far superior on every key criterion. All are larger, have excellent side street access, have less impact on neighbors, do not require 3 stories including an underground garage, and most do not require the destruction of a revenue-producing business that serves the community. Any of these alternative sites could be purchased by the city.

The siting of Fire Station #4 is one of several key recent or near-future decisions affecting Laguna (parking, development downtown and along Coast Highway, the hillsides, the beaches) that are characterized by several features. Input from affected citizens is discouraged or ignored. Alternatives that better serve the interests of the community are passed over on the vote of a slim majority of Council. City leadership and staff assume that if they move forward quietly, citizens will accept their flawed decisions. Do not accept this. It is not too late for a superior site to be selected instead of the Ti Amo site. Make your voice heard on this and other issues.

Greg O’Loughlin, President

South Laguna Civic Association


Letters to the Editor

It’s time to get serious about our landfills

In Thursday’s LA Times and in subsequent publications – I read that the State of California is going big time to grapple with waste, recycling and reusing by making it a law that we dispose of food waste in the “green barrels” or barrels designated for vegetation which in turn will be processed with yard clippings, etc. rather than being just dumped in the landfill. This will create fuel, save the landfills that are under tremendous pressure with all sorts of things as most people don’t pay attention to what the lid says on each container. 

I know many people have already been doing this. If your garden waste is being disposed of by your gardener – ask them if they dump it in a landfill – if they do, perhaps it is time to assume responsibility for it and use the bins provided by Waste Management or call them for one if you don’t have one (they are free). 

Let’s work together and help reduce the impact of climate change and other issues we are currently facing globally. Every little bit will help. Thanks for reading this; am sure you can get more info if you look it up on the internet. Maybe this will bring Laguna Beach citizens closer and working together – instead of this continued conversation over some issues which is splitting this town. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach


Letters to the Editor

Airing of grievances (and a couple of likes) for the holidays

If developers are trying to make a case for not needing a ballot initiative to keep projects from becoming unreasonable, the Longi apartment building in the Canyon and the Polestar brightly lit showroom by the art museum won’t help. Let’s hope the Rivian remodel is more subdued.

I enjoy the convenience of the free neighborhood shuttle, and I really hope they’ll expand it to Sunday service as well. Especially during Festival season. Especially since the city won’t honor resident parking permits at the festival lots. Reward us for the inconvenience. 

I’m like all the rest of you and dislike that confusing blinking red light in the Canyon, but when you lament your lost time, think about Nina Fitzpatrick who had all her time abruptly taken from her.

And on that note, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to slow down and let people turn in and out of the Canyon from the side streets and businesses. If you don’t, Cal Trans will eventually put in another signal. Or at least don’t honk at me when I slow down to wave someone in.

I can’t imagine how anybody at the Water District would think that the hulking, boxy protective structures recently installed on the Top of the World water tank were OK. I’m glad they’re gone, pending proper permitting, but we’ll have to be on alert when they apply to reinstall them.

What is it about San Juan Capistrano that makes it such a haven for phone spammers? Did somebody buy a block of their phone numbers to spoof? When I see a number from that area, I never answer anymore.

If the city has a budget shortfall this year, all it has to do is put a motorcycle officer next to the four-way stop sign by the TOW fire station and watch 90% of the cars roll right through. 

I love the downtown Promenade, and it’s a highlight of our village. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when they implement the planned design improvements. 

Lastly, it’s a shame that what was otherwise a very successful hospitality night was ruined for a few residents by a selfish, duplicitous vendor hawking vulgar political memorabilia. I’m glad the majority of residents were outraged, and it surely won’t happen again.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tim Templeton

Laguna Beach

Need more balance moving forward

Very sad how journalism doesn’t even talk to the person at the booth. Instead, it highlights it was a political issue that was against Biden. Your article should’ve been fairer and more balanced on both sides of the issue. Very sad to see an article like this. 

I’m a Laguna Beach business owner and I’m all about free speech. The people I saw there were respectful to one another and the others were seeing their snide remarks and snarky remarks which were offensive to the people buying their products. No one should be intimidated in what to buy or not buy.

Your article needs to address the root cause of bad behavior on people’s part, not showing respect for others. In the future when you post articles, please try to be fairer and balanced and not biased.

Robert Kime

Laguna Beach

It’s the time of the year where we, at the VFW, need your help

Yes, it’s that time of the year when we express our hopes for peace on Earth and goodwill to all. And yes, it would be great if we could maintain that goodwill for the whole year, but we have failed at that and will do so again. It is a time, however brief, when most people of all faiths, and those without, practice a positive feeling of goodwill towards others, Scrooges exempted.           

And yes, it is a time when non-profit organizations, like ours, request donations so that we can continue our good work for local veterans in need. 

We do not have an income resource such as a rentable structure or a bar – no, legends notwithstanding, we do not sit around a bar telling war stories. 

We are veterans, who served overseas in a hostile area, now focused and dedicated to assisting veterans and their families in need, and again, in our local community. 

We are dependent on donations from people like you to sustain the many support programs we manage.   

These include our assistance in finding housing and furnishings for homeless veterans; scholarship programs to LBHS and Camp Pendleton Marine family students; sponsoring our Laguna Beach VFW Little League baseball team; visiting and presenting gifts to veterans at Long Beach Veterans Hospital; mentoring veterans who enter the Orange County Veterans Court Rehabilitation program; participating in patriotic events, such as Memorial Day, Patriots Day and Veterans Day; contributing to the national VFW children’s home; assisting young service families at Camp Pendleton with baby items, furniture and food; and so many other support programs. 

Even with the pandemic we have had significant success working with veterans in need during the past two years. And, we plan on doing even better in the coming year. 

But we need your help. If you can please send a donation to: LB VFW, Post 5868, PO Box 629, Laguna Beach, CA 92652.

We, and all veterans, thank you!

Arnie Silverman

VFW Post 5868


Letters to the Editor

Today is Pearl Harbor Day

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese fighter pilots attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t just the beginning of World War II for America, it was, as President Roosevelt solemnly told Congress the next day, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The war lasted more than four years. In the end, 407,316 U.S. troops fought and died so that future generations, like mine, could live in peace and freedom. Ironically, Col. Edward Shames, the last remaining officer of the historic WW II parachute infantry regiment, known as Easy Company, died a few days ago at age 99. So did Bob Dole. On Sunday, the 1996 Republican nominee for president, passed away at age 98. I’m sure Shames, this proud member of the Band of Brothers, and Dole, the former U.S. Senator, would have wanted us to remember Pearl Harbor Day.

Today, we are fighting several wars simultaneously. First, the war on international terrorism; second, the war against COVID; and third, the war against each other. After fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years, we owe it to the more than 7,000 U.S. troops who died there to continue guarding against threats to America. The same is true when it comes to the memory of the more than 750,000 moms, dads, brothers and sisters, who have been felled by the coronavirus. If you ask me, the sooner tens of millions of our neighbors get vaccinated, the sooner we can resume our pre-pandemic lives. 

And then there is the war Americans are fighting on street corners and in Congress. Except for places like Charlottesville, where Neo-Nazis marched in 2017, and the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where rioters tried to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power last January, today’s war is mostly vile, disgusting words. My fear is, if left unchecked, these words easily could escalate to hand-to-hand combat here at home. And that, my friends, is not what Col. Shames, Bob Dole – or the millions of U.S. soldiers who marched off to war in the 1940s – fought to protect.

Yes, Dec. 7, 1941 was a date which will live in infamy. For the sake of our nation’s future, I hope and pray we never see another one.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach


Obituary

Charles L. Schoenleber

1954 – 2021

Obituary Charles L. Schoenleber

Courtesy of Patricia Killoran

Charles L. Schoenleber

“Charlie” was born and raised in Laguna Beach, graduating as a proud “Artist” from Laguna Beach High School in 1972. He was hardworking, friendly, independent and sentimental. Many of his close friends and relatives were fortunate to have received his humorous and nostalgic texts over the years. 

Charlie played hard, first at ping-pong in the backyard of his Catalina Street home that his parents built in 1951. He went on to enjoy Little League with the Elks Club team and join one of the first golf teams at LBHS. He had a wonderful golf swing, as his long-time Laguna friend, John Enfield, will attest. Golfing also became a family glue; he would play with his mother and siblings. Other pastimes included cheering for the Dodgers, playing dominos and reading Lee Child’s thrillers.

He never lost his passion for the ocean, having started his swimming and rafting days at Woods Cove. He turned to skim boarding and water skiing (Lake Mojave), then moving on to surfing at 10 when he found a discarded surfboard along the beach. His home surf spot was at Agate Street beach. He often brought his beloved Springer Spaniel, Peggy Sue, to surf with him. Charlie shared those skills with many friends and took multiple road trips to Central America, including Panama with his brother and El Salvador with other Laguna amigos to ride the great waves near La Libertad. More recently, he would load his paddleboard and bike in his pick-up and head to Mission Bay in San Diego. A fine day ended sharing fish tacos and beer with his friends.

Charlie was destined to be a building contractor, proudly following in the footsteps of his father, uncles and namesake grandfather who moved to Laguna from Pasadena in the late 1940s. After his mentor father died when Charlie was just 21, he had to make his own way, he learned by doing. He eventually established his own construction business in San Diego County, principally in Carlsbad and San Diego. He loved his trade and became confident in his skills; work was his form of meditation. He made close friends with co-workers, Nelson Barrios and Francisco “Frankie” Hernandez. 

Charlie suffered a cardiac arrest at his San Diego home on October 24. He died five days later. He is survived by his siblings, Patricia Killoran (Tom) of Tucson, AZ and Michael Schoenleber (Marcia Steinberg) of Sacramento and 18 cousins, who will remember him with his devilish, fun-loving smile. He was preceded in death by his beloved parents, James Schoenleber (1975) and Flora Schoenleber Taylor (2014).


Guest Letter

Michael Beanan

South Laguna Beach

Wake up call for HOPE

Guest Letter Mike Beanan

Click of photo for larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Mike Beanan

Last month, I felt hopeful when our City Council, State & County leaders stood together at Main Beach to declare a commitment to protect Laguna’s Bluebelt and California’s coast from another oil disaster. We need to stand behind them and make it happen.

The recent oil release to Southern California coastal waters is a tragic reminder of the essential role a healthy ocean contributes to our way of life, ecology and ECO-nomy. Yet, there remains hope in California’s network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) initiated more than ten years ago when Laguna took leadership in ocean protection and conservation. 

Our Marine Protected Areas create a necklace of regional fish nurseries. As a complement to the Laguna Greenbelt, the MPAs are known locally as the “Bluebelt.”

Lessons from the recent oil disaster can motivate us to move forward purposefully, with determination, to retire old, leaking offshore oil platforms in favor of green energy alternatives. One emerging technology, for instance, grows and harvests giant kelp on underwater offshore platforms to produce biofuel. In essence, the process bypasses millions of years required to produce today’s fuel from ancient kelp deposits offshore, deep under the ocean.

Sewage operations like the Coastal Treatment Plant can also switch to perpetual supplies of biogas, like OC Sanitation District, to generate power for filtering and distributing new recycled water. Laguna’s annual wildfire threats, relatively remote location and increasing demands for more water as drought conditions advance will benefit more from recycled water than paying to discharge secondary sewage wastewater to the ocean.

Guest Letter sea lion in kelp

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Mike Beanan

An entry by Alex Coldwell for the Laguna Bluebelt Photo Contest

Partnering with citizen environmental groups and progressive city leaders is a potent strategy to achieve what we all ‘hope’ for - to move hope to action. In our ‘hope’ to reduce plastic pollution, for example, Water Bottle Refill Stations are being installed in Laguna, simultaneously fulfilling State requirements for City trash reduction while advancing a citizen led campaign to reduce plastic bottles polluting Laguna’s beaches and ocean waters.

More can be done and must happen to protect ocean water quality. None of us want to discharge secondary sewage to the ocean at Aliso Beach, yet according to billing records, everyday Laguna residents and visitors send 1.87 million gallons of secondary sewage (over 500,000,000 gallons - that’s one-half billion gallons annually!) to the Aliso Creek Ocean Outfall, located 1.5 miles offshore creating a one-mile-long diffusion plume just off Aliso Beach.

Secondary sewage is free of biosolids but it transports liquid wastewater from toilets, showers, laundry and kitchens to the ocean. Pharmaceuticals, hormone endocrine disruptors, plastic microbeads in cosmetics, synthetic microfibers in clothing and other Constituents of Emerging Concern (CECs) remain discharged in the ACOO Plume. Ocean upwelling, currents and countercurrents circulate the ACOO Plume as it bio-accumulates within the marine life food chain and, ultimately, popular recreational and commercial fisheries.

Guest Letter map chart

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Mike Beanan

Aliso Creek ocean outfall

The October Oil Spill is another wake-up call. Let’s move our hope to action now to end ocean pollution from secondary sewage near Laguna’s MPAs and, at the same time, create local “new water” supplies to address annual wildfire season and prolonged droughts. Will you be the solution to ocean pollution?


Letters to the Editor

Thanks for the pickleball courts…let’s everyone play

Members of the Alta Laguna Pickleball Group want to express their gratitude and appreciation for the three, new, permanent pickleball courts and two more striped for pickleball to share with tennis players.

The group was founded in 2019 by five beginner players. Since then, the roster of participants has grown to 60. We signed petitions, wrote letters and made appearances to gain these fabulous courts. 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this mission, especially the Laguna Beach Recreation Committee including fellow pickleballer Roger Kempler, City Councilmember Sue Kempf, Senior Recreation Supervisor Alexis Braun, pickleball coach Marc Freije and all of our members.

Letters to the Editor group

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Janis Murray

The Alta Laguna Pickleball Group

To celebrate the opening of the new courts, co-founders Janis Murray and Vicky Hawthorne held a “Cupcakes & Cups” reception at the park, also recognizing the tireless efforts of our Communication Director Karen Merson who organized daily games on her phone, even during her three-month summer at her second home in Canada.

Letters to the Editor courts

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Janis Murray

Playing pickleball on the new courts

Thank you all, and as you can see from these pictures, we are quite busy daily on these cherished new courts…that shows Laguna Beach is now up to date with excellent facilities for the fastest growing sport in America.

Kudos everyone. Let’s play.

Janis Murray

The Alta Laguna Pickleball Group

Laguna Beach 

Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.


Letters to the Editor

Flores’ letter strikes a chord with us

David Flores’ letter in last week’s Stu News, which raised the issue of patients brought to Mission Hospital for psychiatric care, struck a chord with us. In July 2020, our son, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was brought to Mission Hospital on a 51-50 (judged a danger to oneself or others) by the Laguna Beach police after he attempted to assault a police officer and a staff member from the Orange County Behavioral Health Service, who wrote up an account of the event. 

We do not know if the emergency room doctor consulted her [staff member] account of the attempted assault. Our son was there for two hours and given an Abilify pill. He was then released with a note to “call doctor.” We called Mission Hospital and were told “he is not our patient.” A few months later, on September 18, 2020, he committed suicide by stepping in front of a train near Trestles Beach.

We are grateful to the Laguna Beach police, especially Officer Brian Griep, who always treated our son with understanding and compassion. To say we are disappointed by his treatment at Mission Hospital is an understatement. As one of the police officers said, “I thought hospitals were supposed to help people.”

Anne and Dick Frank

Laguna Beach

Stu News encourages Letters to the Editor and they should be submitted to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Deadlines for submission are Monday noon, for Tuesday publication and Thursday noon, for Friday publication. Stu News reserves the right to approve and/or edit all letters.


Guest Letter

Peter Chang

PMMC hosts 50th Anniversary Gala celebration

Dear PMMC Family,

As many of you know, on Sunday, Nov. 7, the organization hosted its 50th Anniversary Gala celebration and fundraiser at the Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach. It was an incredible honor to have so many of you in attendance. Your presence, energy and financial support that evening was truly humbling to witness. In addition, I know that even more of you participated in different ways, such as volunteering at the event, soliciting in-kind donations for our auctions, underwriting the costs of our activities, sharing the event on your social media, and/or bidding in our first ever online silent auction. 

It was a night 50 years in the making and YOU made it historic! Because of you, and the approximate 375 guests in attendance, we raised an estimated record $638,000 for our critical marine mammal rescue and rehab operations, science-based education programs and collaborative scientific research studies. The impact of your giving will inspire the next generation of ocean explorers and conservationists, strengthen our research and expand our reach throughout the communities we proudly serve.

There were so many wonderful moments throughout the evening, but the highlight was honoring and recognizing two of our co-founders, Jim Stauffer and John Cunningham and their families. Their vision and passion started us on this journey of ocean and marine mammal conservation and research a half a century ago, and the world is very much a better place because of them. We feel very fortunate to carry on their legacy.

Please enjoy these fantastic pictures from the evening as well as our special 50th Anniversary video below, featuring Michele Hunter, Director of Animal Care. Thank you for being part of our story and for joining us as we take the first steps into the next 50 years of growth and service. 

Respectfully,

Peter Chang

Chief Executive Officer

Pacific Marine Mammal Center


Guest Letter

E-bikes: a simple guide to safety

By Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

Guest Letter E bikes Mahmoud

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Providence Mission Hospital

 Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP

Electric bikes are becoming increasingly popular for both pleasure and commuting, especially in Orange County where the weather is great 12 months out of the year. It’s not out of the ordinary to see families and groups of friends biking along the Laguna Beach coast or riding toward Main Beach.

But did you know that e-bike traffic accidents are on the rise? Because e-bikes allow cyclists to ride at speeds of more than 20 miles an hour, the risk of concussions and internal injuries are also more serious, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS). 

That’s why it’s important that Laguna Beach residents put their safety first. Here are some tips:

 Know the Rules:

To ride an e-bike in Orange County, you must:

–Be at least 16 years old

–ALWAYS wear a helmet

Safety Tips:

Riding an e-bike is just like riding a standard bicycle but with more risk (because of the speeds it can reach), so before you ride, remember to:

1. ALWAYS wear a helmet. No exceptions.

2. Make sure your bike has front and rear lights, as well as reflective stickers.

3. Wear bright, reflective clothing.

4. Install a horn or bell so that cars can hear and see you coming. Bicyclists can be easily lost in a motorist’s blind spot.

5. Find safe routes – preferably less traveled roads and pathways that allow electric bikes.

6. Ride defensively and remember, cars make mistakes – they don’t always use their turn signals, so be alert, cautious and prepare for the worst.

7. Beware of parked cars. Someone could open their car door as you pass or pull out of their parking spot without looking.

8. Look out for other bicyclists. They don’t always have lights on their bikes. And, it can be hard to see them at night.

9. Slow down and let pedestrians know you’re coming by shouting, “On your right,” beep your horn or ring your bell.

10. Keep in mind your bike wheels are not prepared for potholes or cracks, so slow down and avoid them.

 Tips for new e-bike riders:

It will take time for even experienced cyclers to get comfortable using an e-bike. It’s important that they take the time to become comfortable on the bike before riding it around town. And for those who are new to biking, make sure to know the rules of the road and how to use hand signals.

 Biking is great for your physical and mental well-being. I highly recommend it for people of all ages looking for some exercise and fun. So, grab a friend, your helmet and give it a try. Just remember to stay safe and when in doubt, slow down.

Guisou Mahmoud, MD, FACEP, Medical Director for the Sue and Bill Gross Emergency Department at Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - [email protected]

Lana Johnson, Editor - [email protected]

Tom Johnson, Publisher - [email protected]

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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